In Ukraine, specialists unite to support children with additional educational needs
As part of a UNICEF project, a team of specialists are offering developmental classes for children with additional educational needs
The war in Ukraine has uprooted millions. As a result, scores of children have lost access to education, healthcare and other crucial services.
This is especially critical for children with disabilities and special educational needs, and why UNICEF, together with partners, have launched a new project connecting a multidisciplinary team of specialists with children with special educational needs.
10-years-old Serhiy is one of the many children that are benefiting from its help. He and his family have been living in the city of Odesa since the outbreak of the full-scale war in February, and his kindergarten and many developmental institutions for children have now closed down.
"Serhiy has a so-called ‘evacuation chair’ in the safest corner of the apartment," says Olena, his mother. "He knows that if an air raid signal occurs, he should run to this chair."
As soon as Olena heard about the UNICEF project ‘Hugs for Everyone in Need', she immediately enrolled her son in classes. Now, he visits a psychologist and a speech therapist at a local hospital. Other services include paediatricians, neuropsychologists, rehabilitators and speech therapists. The specialists also work online, providing services for families that moved abroad or relocated to safer regions of Ukraine.
"Serhiy became more communicative, focused and balanced," says Olena.
"We see how much the war affects children. It's painful and tough. When parents come to us with their child, we, first of all, make a complex examination of the child's development. And just after that, we determine how many and which exactly corrective and developmental classes a child needs."
Another boy, also called Serhiy, is thriving thanks to the project, improving his reading skills and learning to communicate better with his peers.
"The war is still going on and many specialists have fled the city," says Liudmyla, his mother.
"Children with special educational needs require continuous specialized support. If families with such children are forced to move, as happened due to the war, we have to ensure the continuation of their education as soon as possible."
The project ‘Hugs for Everyone in Need’ is being implemented with the support of UNICEF in cities across Ukraine. In total, around 40 specialists are involved in the project and they hold 70 sessions with children with special educational needs every day. Currently, 400 children are receiving these critical services.